Spoilers: Sleeping Beauty
Echoes In The Darkness
"I'm your only friend who doesn't like you just for your money, remember?"
Mick to Josef, There's No Such Thing as Vampires
Guillermo Gasol strutted through the entrance of Los Angeles County Morgue with one thing on his mind: his afternoon today with Theresa. The woman had been a feral little minx at the Chinese theatre.
When Theresa had shimmied down the aisle on a break from the concession stand, he hadn't been the least bit unhappy to miss the last half hour of his Hillary Duff flick. He'd seen enough of her movies to know the perky blond would win the aqua ballet championship, go skydiving to prove her womanhood and arrive just in time to take the crown at the senior prom.
The squeaky-voiced teen running the show had robbed him blind. It had cost Guillermo fifty dollars for ten minutes of "alone time" in the projection room, just his girl and him. They'd discovered last time that the broom closet was too squishy. That greedy little Brace Face had made him want to show some sharpness in his smile. Of course, that would have been a bad choice—a bad, bad choice.
Really it was no matter, the cash had been forgotten quickly, and he was soon busy using all available brainpower to deal with his vampire gal. Thank goodness for the booming of the digital speaker system!
Now, clocking in at security, Guillermo smirked. He loved older women. And, with five decades on him, Theresa was a wealth of knowledge.
The best thing about working in a morgue was peace and quiet.
There was barely any public to deal with, and the customers didn't argue that their toe tags were too tight. The coroner's assistant wouldn't have minded a little thank you once in a while, especially when he went out of his way to do various fancy knots.
In addition, Guillermo always pulled any unruly hair away from the client's eyes before any body identifications and never filled out their charts with anything other than his best handwriting.
They were his little ways of showing he cared.
Gasol sat in an office chair looking at his next customer, sipping his O positive from a Six Flags souvenir (his favourite place, his favourite mug), wondering if Theresa might be up for the Death Drop, when he heard a voice.
"Son of a bitch!" said the covered mound on the stainless autopsy table. It echoed in the darkness of the room.
A customer complaint?
In his hundred years here and there, Guillermo had never heard a corpse utter anything—and in such a rude manner! What the hell was going on under those linens?
"Where the heck are my hands! And my suit is—deconstructed! Ugh, I despise that fashion trend!" The crabby corpse rustled its ivory covering, attempting to sit upright. Frankenstein, it seemed, had come to life. "Get this damned thing off me! Tim? Dan? If this is a poker night prank, I'm not amused. Get this drapey thing off me! I'd do it myself, but I've got no bloody digits!"
Guillermo blinked and ran to remove the sheet. As it drifted to the floor, he gasped.
"You're sure you don't have any enemies lurking, wanting to—I don't know—blow you up?" Guillermo inquired, handing Josef Kostan another unit of AB neg.
Kostan watched his index finger and others reform their tips before responding. He'd already explained how game night had ended in surprise fireworks. "No more than usual. Could I have a cup like a civilized vamp?"
Guillermo looked at his mug momentarily, then his supply shelf. Yes, he could do that. But, crystal goblets he did not stock. Swiftly, he was off his chair, quick to retrieve a pony glass with a tail for a handle. A coroner's daughter had left it in the lunchroom last week.
At the pink abomination, Josef scowled. "I'll stick to the bag."
"Shut up, man!" Guillermo grumbled out of the corner of his mouth, as he wheeled a gurney and its not-so-dead contents towards the freight elevator. Josef understood it was unwise with a mark on his head to pop up like Lazarus, and yet he wouldn't stop whining about the indignity of lying on a cold, wheeled slab, jerked around by a terrible driver.
When they hit a wall hard in the east wing, Josef asked, "Are you drunk?"
The attendant didn't answer. Transferring board-stiff, blessedly mute clients was one thing, moving bodies that asked you why their coverings weren't made of Egyptian cotton (and what the thread count was) was another.
The ramming of the gurney hard into the side of the corridor had been payback.
"Gasol!" shouted Dr. Barton, the chief coroner, with a finger in the air, just before the double doors of the elevator shut in his face. Guillermo breathed a sigh of relief, encapsulated inside with his burden and a couple of men in blue. Quickly, he punched a button and whistled La Cucaracha off-key.
There was an audible groan under the sheet.
Guillermo smiled sheepishly at the two officers with puzzled expressions on their faces. "Bad enchilada," he muttered, rubbing his tummy.
When the police weren't looking, he gave the gurney a nasty shake and whistled louder.
The elevator had released its prisoners on their level, all except one tone-deaf morgue assistant and his charge. When the doors opened once more Guillermo stared out, eyes narrowing, as he realized he'd pressed the button for the wrong floor. He scowled and moved to click GF.
That's when Shirley of Anderson's Funeral Home put a hand on the door. "Hi Gui!" she cried, swiping her curly mop behind an ear and batting gooey eyelashes. Guillermo moaned inwardly. This mortician had been trying her best to catch his attention for weeks.
"Boy, could I ever use the help of a smart, handsome man!" she declared.
"Oh, now I get it. The family should have signed there, instead of here. No wonder security was giving me so much trouble. Thank heavens for you! The wife of this one," Shirley pointed at her own linen-covered mound, "wants Harold's ashes for a gathering tomorrow. I was afraid I'd never get him out of here and ready."
She gave Gasol a coquettish smile with her eyes, adding sweetly, "If you reconsider my dinner offer, you know where to find me." Then, off she trundled with Harry.
Guillermo sighed, glad that was over. Gripping Josef's gurney, he proceeded back to the elevator. It took no time to dawn on him, however, that the wheels didn't squeak like before, nor the body.
"Shirley!" Gasol ran after her before Kostan was crisped in a crematorium.
It had cost Guillermo one supper date for Shirley not to ask too many questions about the loud swearing coming from the slab she'd mistakenly rolled off with. She was a good sport, thankfully.
"It's a practical joke. Won't Terrence be surprised? I'll be by your place at seven tomorrow. Rice pilaf, yum." He waved the paper with her address excitedly and plastered on a grin until she left. There was no way he'd have taken her to the Chinese theatre, but she didn't want to see a movie anyway.
"Yuck, rice pilaf. There'd better be wine," he muttered.
Guillermo had had enough. It was all he could do not to dump his dead weight on the sidewalk and run. Thankfully, Terrence pulled his old compact up to the back entrance just in time.
Gasol abruptly wished Josef a goodnight and let his morgue counterpart (and fellow vampire) listen to a rant about the indignity of a cramped ride in a rusty Sprint. Terrence made a sour face at his co-worker before sliding back into the driver's seat.
Guillermo owed him big time.
Gasol re-entered the morgue with an empty cart, elated that the craziness was finally over.
Dr. Barton was there, displeased, tapping a toe.
"Where have you been? And where is that John Doe from the Kostan building? I need to do a preliminary report."
Guillermo rubbed his temples. If vampires could get headaches he'd have a whopper.
It was crappy hour at the morgue.
This was a challenge from an old Moonlight convention to use the words "echoes in the darkness".
Other titles in the running for this fic included:
"The Giant Thrill Ride"
"Ponies and Pilaf"
"Frankenstein Goes to Hollywood"
"I See Dead People"